All posts by CHOC Children's

Premier CHOC leukemia and immunotherapy conference draws international experts

A premier CHOC Children’s symposium centered around the complex issues facing pediatric leukemia patients drew more than 150 international leaders in the field of children’s leukemia treatment and research. This two-day conference had 33 speakers from various renowned institutions.

Building on the scientific foundation and exchange of information established in the gathering’s five-year history, attendees of the 2018 Society of Young Adult Oncology (SAYAO)/CHOC Children’s Leukemia Symposium shared the latest scientific and clinical advances in acute leukemia, specifically immunotherapy.

CHOC Children’s physician Dr. Van T. Huynh, chaired the symposium and presented her research on asparaginase therapy and silent inactivation.

Titled “From Pediatric to Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – The Age of Cellular Therapy,” the Nov. 5 and 6 symposia focused largely on CAR-T cell therapy and new agents for the treatment of acute leukemia. Specific topics included:

  • an update on CAR-T cell products and trials;
  • the future of CD 19, CD22 and NK CAR cell trials;
  • the economics of CAR-T cell therapy;
  • update on leukemia therapy for pediatrics and adolescent and young adults; and
  • supportive care and oncofertility for the leukemia patient.
The symposium drew more than 150 international pediatric leukemia leaders and 33 speakers from various renowned institutions.

The symposium was chaired by CHOC physician Dr. Van T. Huynh, who also presented her research on asparaginase therapy and silent inactivation. CHOC physician Dr. Carol Lin discussed toxicity and management of asparaginase therapy.

Learn more about referring a patient to the Hyundai Cancer Institute at CHOC Children’s.

CHOC Children’s PICU Earns Gold Beacon Award Recognizing Exceptional Patient Care for Third Time

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) recently conferred a gold-level Beacon Award for Excellence in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at CHOC Children’s Hospital. This is the third time CHOC has earned the gold-level distinction.

The Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes unit caregivers who successfully improve patient outcomes and align practices with AACN’s six Healthy Work Environment Standards. Units that achieve this three-year, three-level award with gold, silver or bronze designations meet national criteria consistent with Magnet Recognition, the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award and the National Quality Healthcare Award.

“The Beacon Award for Excellence recognizes caregivers in stellar units whose consistent and systematic approach to evidence-based care optimizes patient outcomes,” explains AACN President, Clareen Wiencek, RN, PhD, ACNP, ACHPN. “Units that receive this national recognition serve as role models to others on their journey to excellent patient and family care.”

CHOC’s PICU earned a gold award, the highest designation, by meeting the following evidence-based Beacon Award for Excellence criteria:

  • leadership structures and systems;
  • appropriate staffing and staff engagement;
  • effective communication, knowledge management, learning and development;
  • evidence-based practice and processes; and
  • outcome measurement.

“This award is further validation of our entire pediatric intensive care team’s dedication to the highest standards of patient safety and care,” says Melanie Patterson, RN, MHA, DNP, vice president, patient care services and chief nursing officer, CHOC Children’s Hospital. “We are entrusted with caring for some of the sickest and most medically fragile patients, and our goal is to deliver the best possible outcomes for them and their families.”

About the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: Founded in 1969 and based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) is the largest specialty nursing organization in the world. AACN joins together the interests of more than 500,000 acute and critical care nurses and claims more than 235 chapters worldwide. The organization’s vision is to create a healthcare system driven by the needs of patients and their families in which acute and critical care nurses make their optimal contribution. To learn more about AACN, visit

Dr. Stanley Galant Recognized by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology

Dr. Stanley Galant, medical director of the CHOC Children’s Breathmobile has been recognized by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) with the 2019 AAAAI Outstanding Volunteer Clinical Faculty Award. This award is being presented to Dr. Galant for his outstanding contributions and diligent work in helping to advance knowledge in and treatment of allergic disease; specifically, in recognition of service to the University of California Irvine allergy/immunology training program as a teacher and mentor.

CHOC’s Breathmobile, the only mobile asthma clinic dedicated to serving preschool and school-aged children in Orange County, removes barriers for children and their families who may be unable to travel or pay for preventive asthma care.

Among Dr. Galant’s achievements, in 2017, he received the Robert M. Zweig, M.D., Memorial Award from the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) for his longtime work to help children with asthma in the community.

Dr. Galant will be recognized at an awards luncheon held at the 2019 AAAAI Annual Meeting in San Francisco on February 23.

CHOC Clinical Nutrition and Lactation Services Director and Registered Dietician Contribute to Infant and Pediatric Feedings Book

We are proud of our clinical nutrition and lactation services team for continuing to advance best practices. Caroline Steele, the department’s director, co-authored Infant and Pediatric Feedings: Guidelines for Preparation of Human Milk and Formula in Health Care Facilities (third edition), with CHOC RD Katherine Bennett contributing a chapter. And we’ve just learned more than 2,000 copies of this authoritative guide have been sold in just a couple of months!

This edition of the book addresses the most up-to-date information on human milk and formula storage, handling, and preparation techniques. Five new chapters have been added. Further updates and additions include: both infant and pediatric feeding preparation; guidelines for facilities seeking to implement centralized infant and pediatric feeding preparation for the first time or expand scope of operations; and information on donor human milk along with guidelines for human milk products. The book discusses lactoengineering techniques and current research. There is a chapter on use of blenderized (real food) tube feedings within the hospital setting. In addition, the book contains expanded information on modular components and other additives.

To order a copy, visit

In the Spotlight: Robert B. Kelly, M.D.

A board-certified physician in pediatrics and critical care with clinical interests in pulmonary hypertension, ECMO, pediatric transport, global health, outreach and business has joined CHOC Children’s.

Dr. Robert Kelly is medical director of the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU) and associate division chief and director of research and academics for the division of critical care at CHOC.

In his role, Dr. Kelly enjoys working in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and CVICU, as well as supporting one of CHOC’s goals in guiding research and educational opportunities for physicians and trainees.

“What makes our division special is our incredible diversity,” Dr. Kelly says. “Our group has an excellent mix of new and seasoned physicians from various training programs and prior experiences. From special interest and experience in CVICU and palliative care, to community PICU care and hospital administration, we are a varied group.”

Dr. Kelly attended medical school at Georgetown University School of Medicine, in Washington, D.C. He completed his pediatric residency at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, in Hershey, Penn.; and completed his pediatric critical care fellowship at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital.

This dedicated physician has been fascinated with science and biology since he can remember, but he found his passion for pediatrics while in medical school.

“Taking care of children is the most rewarding aspect of my job because the challenges of dealing with patients who often cannot communicate their symptoms pushes me to constantly think, question and re-evaluate,” Dr. Kelly says. “I cannot think of anything more satisfying than being able to form a therapeutic relationship with a family, have a direct hand in the progression of their child’s recovery and then see so many of our patients return to visit the unit after discharge.”

One of Dr. Kelly’s goals is to help expand the capacity and capabilities of the CVICU to handle more complex surgical cases. The team recently added an expert CVICU nurse practitioner with excellent leadership and educational experience. Additionally, the team is working on protocolizing sedation and analgesia practices.

“I’m really excited about one of our latest projects, where we will be revamping daily bedside rounding to begin with nurse-led presentations,” Dr. Kelly says. “We believe this practice will make our care even more family-centered, while also empowering nurses to take a larger role in the care of their patients.”

Through the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Dr. Kelly has participated in several global health missions, including a recent trip to a tertiary academic PICU in Maputo, Mozambique, which he has been working with for many years to bring pediatric resuscitation training to its physicians, nurses and students.

“On the latest trip, I traveled to two referring hospitals to begin instruction on building a local pediatric transport system,” he says. “We plan on future trips to begin analyzing the demographics of pediatric transport among those three hospitals in order to measure the success of our interventions.”

Dr. Kelly is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

In his spare time, Dr. Kelly likes to spend time with his wife and daughter. He enjoys playing golf and taking vacations with his family to Hawaii, as well as watching the New York Mets and New York Giants.